Arthur's note: Just an idea of what might have gone through Tony's mind during one of his wakeful periods in Bethesda.



His feet itched.

Not that this was the most pressing of his concerns, but really, his feet itched. He hates hospital socks; they just irritate him for some reason. Annoyed, he shifts slightly in the bed. He'd been dreaming of a world colored like speckled glass and with quiet conversations with faceless people when the sensation had awakened him. It hadn't been a nightmare per se, but it had been oddly disconcerting. He supposes it reflects how he is feeling right now. He's been visited by so many of the hospital's staff who were all a-twitter to visit real, live plague victim. Their faces seemed to run together in one unrecognizable blur. Considering some of the stuff they kept pumping into him to fight off the secondary infections, it was a wonder he hadn't had worse dreams.

So much for sleeping; more alert now his eyes open to the familiar hue that saturated every surface with an unearthly glow. Blue.

He rubbed one foot absently against the other as his mind wandered.

Blue. Not his favorite color. He likes red, quite a lot actually. Red cars, red lipstick, that red head in bookkeeping. Although, now that he thinks about it, a room awash in red would have given him the feeling of being in hell. All he would need is for Gibbs to come blazing in all fire and brimstone. Probably best to not complain.

Maybe yellow? No, that would make him look sallow and he already looks like death warmed over. Maybe a sepia tone would blend everything together a bit more. Take away some the harshness of his current situation. McGoogle wore brown a lot; sepia would look great on him. All bland and brown. He snickered softly to himself, stopping quickly when a catch in his chest reminds why he is in the blue room.

Blue. He feels like he is in some awful movie on the Sci-Fi channel. Attack of the killer cough! The letter of doom. Wait, what movie does this remind him of again? He'd told Kate earlier, whenever that was. She'd left long ago. He's lost track of time again. The catch now turns into tickle in his throat, and he knows exactly what will come and the name of the movie scatters from his mind as a feeling of anxiety takes its place.

His feet stop itching the exact moment his chest constricts and once again the coughing starts. His hands fumble blindly around and find the crumpled mass tissues one of the nurses had thoughtfully left next to him on the bed. The coughing becomes spasm like in nature and the simmering anxiety grows as he realizes he can't catch his breath. Blue spots float in front of his eyes as he jerks up and leans over the side of the bed in an attempt to alleviate the coughing. He is so weary of it all. He wonders if one of the faceless ones will come in under the guise of adjusting his meds just to get more fodder for the water cooler. His chest aches and his throat feels horribly bruised and swollen and yet the coughing rages on. A force swarms the room and suddenly someone's pounding him on his back, while placing a supportive arm across his chest, and the infectious substance dislodges itself from his throat taking shelter in the now dirty tissue. Wheezing, he is laid back down on the bed. He lifts his blurry tear filled eyes to see Gibbs looking down at him, his face an unreadable mask in the eerie blue light.

"Easy, DiNozzo. I've got you."

The blue dots dance and fade as he focuses on his mentor feeling absurdly relieved to not have to make nice with another doctor or nurse right now. He swears that when he gets out of this god-forsaken blue room of doom, he will never go to a doctor again. Never. Not even, Ducky. Well, maybe Ducky. He liked him, although some of his stories could be very…

A gentle tap on his forehead stills his rambling thoughts, and he grins.

"Thanks, Boss." That sounded horrible, but the feeling must come through clear as Gibbs lets a small, blue tinted smile slip out for just a moment as he takes a seat next to his bed.

"Sleep, Tony."

Well, sure. That's what he'd been doing before something had woken him up. He can't remember what it was now. Doesn't matter. Too tired after attempting to cough up his insides to even dream of arguing, he just continues to smile as his eyes drift close and all that blue begins to fade away.

Just as he feels he is about to drift off, a brief thought floats lazily across his mind.

His feet itch.